Rays righty James Shields racked up a franchise-high 15 strikeouts in a complete-game effort Tuesday night at Tropicana Field, but the Orioles were able to squeeze out a 1-0 victory thanks to a fourth-inning Chris Davis home run. It was one of only two hits that the Baltimore offense was able to muster in the game, but it provided all the scoring they would need.
The O’s Miguel Gonzalez was ace-like in his own right, punching out seven batters in 6 1/3 scoreless frames. And Jim Johnson closed it out with an easy ninth inning to earn his league-leading 51st save.
In New York, the Yankees trailed the Red Sox 3-1 entering the bottom of the ninth inning. But pinch-hitter Raul Ibanez hit a two-run homer to tie things up and then drove in Francisco Cervelli in the bottom of the 12th as the Bombers survived a minor scare and maintained their one-game lead in the AL East.
The race comes down to Wednesday. Game 162. In this wacky baseball season, it only seems right.
Angels DH Albert Pujols passed Mark McGwire for sole possession of 10th place on baseball’s all-time home run leaderboard, slugging his 584th career home run in the first inning of Wednesday night’s game against the Blue Jays.
Mike Trout had already slugged a solo home run off of Jays starter Marco Estrada to bring Pujols to the dish. Pujols jumped on an 0-1 cut fastball, sending it out to left-center field, clearing the fence by a few feet.
Pujols, who finished 4-for-4 with the homer and an RBI double, is batting .257/.321/.441 with 24 home runs and 99 RBI on the year. His next target on the home run leaderboard is Frank Robinson at 586.
Orioles closer Zach Britton had appeared in a major league record 43 consecutive games without allowing an earned run, spanning May 5 to August 22. That streak came to an end on Wednesday evening against the Nationals.
The Orioles entered the bottom of the ninth inning holding a 10-3 lead, but reliever Parker Bridwell immediately found himself in hot water. He yielded back-to-back singles to Danny Espinosa and Clint Robinson. He was able to strike out Trea Turner, but walked Jayson Werth to load the bases. Daniel Murphy then crushed his first career grand slam to make it a 10-7 game. That prompted manager Buck Showalter to bring in Britton.
Britton, too, was knocked around. He served up a single to Bryce Harper, followed by a double to Anthony Rendon that scored Harper, pushing the score to 10-8 and ending Britton’s streak. Wilson Ramos reached on a fielder’s choice back to Britton, but the lefty finally finished the game by getting Ryan Zimmerman to ground into a game-ending 4-6-3 double play.
Britton now holds a nice 0.69 ERA with 38 saves and a 61/16 K/BB ratio in 52 innings of work this season.